Discover the 10 health and beauty benefits of swimming

by Bec 8 October 2018

Our childhood consisted mainly of countless tumble turns. From the age of nine, we were constantly training for and competing in swimming events. We progressed through school to state to national competitions until we were 18. When we weren’t in the pool, we were in the ocean. Swimming laps of Manly Beach, or around the headland to the next beach, now fixated on fish, which was a nice change from the black line!

We went on to teach swimming. Both kid and adult beginner programs, before technique training for those wishing to conquer ocean swimming.

Most of our life has revolved around swimming and the water, however we hadn’t been fully aware of all the benefits of swimming. Taking the time to research them, we are so grateful of our involvement in the sport and lifestyle. We encourage everyone to get involved, as you’ll see from benefit 6 – anyone can do it!

Health Benefits

Swimming is a good all-round workout because you need to move your whole body against the resistance of the water. This contributes to the following health benefits: 

  • keeps your heart rate up but takes some of the impact stress off your body
  • builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness
  • helps maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs
  • tones muscles and builds strength
  • provides an all-over body workout, as nearly all of your muscles are used during swimming
  • increases metabolism
  • increases oestrogen
  • improves coordination, balance and posture
  • provides good low-impact therapy for some injuries and conditions

Beauty Benefits – Smooth butt and skin!

The pressure of the water on your tissues helps remove cellulite. Water is denser than air, and it squeezes your limbs gently while you exercise, relieving edema or swelling. You use your thighs, calves and buttocks muscles extensively in swimming, particularly in breaststroke and improve circulation in cellulite-prone areas. Increasing blood circulation improves skin tone and health, and toned muscles smooth the areas where cellulite still exists.

Ocean swimming as further benefits as salt water has significantly higher amounts of minerals, including sodium, chloride, sulphate, magnesium and calcium, which improves moisture retention in the skin and detoxifies skin to promote new cell growth.

Meditative

Swimming boosts endorphins in the body that increase feelings of wellbeing. Studies have shown that swimming produces the same “relaxation responses” as yoga, and the stretching and contracting of your muscles can heighten this experience. Not only does swimming increase relaxation chemicals, it is also highly conducive to meditation. Ocean swimming is even more conducive to meditation as exercising in natural environments has been shown to have greater benefits for mental health than exercising elsewhere. This is because it combines the benefits of exercise with the restorative effects of being in nature.

People find themselves in a meditative and relaxed state when they are in, on or under water because the breathing patterns used during swimming stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (the system that controls organ function and quiets the brain) influencing the brain positively. The weightlessness of water can also have a calming effect on the mind, even changing or slowing down brain waves. Submerged in water can provide a distraction from life, giving a sense of mindfulness and awareness of one’s surroundings.

Swimming also forces you to work on your breathing and that brings us into the next benefit.

Cures Asthma and increases lung capacity

When your face is under water, oxygen is at a premium. In turn, your body adapts to use oxygen more efficiently.

There is a far higher level of moisture present in the air when you’re at a swimming pool in comparison to the dry air that you’ll experience at a gym. The moisture in the air makes it far easier to breath, perfect for those that suffer with asthma and find cardio in the gym or in the park that bit too hard on their lungs.

Swimming can vastly improve asthma symptoms, even cure it (based on my own experience*) I suffered from Asthma as a child, which is the reason our parents entered me into swimming lessons from an early age. My asthma puffers accompanied me to all my swimming competitions up until I was about 16. Then I found I just didn’t need it anymore. I don’t suffer from Asthma any longer. I haven’t needed a puffer for 12 years!

Swimming increases overall lung-volume and teaches good breathing techniques resulting in lower resting heart rates, lower blood pressure, and better running performance.

It makes you a better runner

By increasing your ability to take in and effectively use oxygen, swimming increases your endurance capacity. Swimming increases your lung capacity and forces you to learn better breathing techniques that can aid you when running. Air-fuelled benefits aside, swimming trains your glutes and hamstrings, your core, and your shoulders—all of which are needed for improved running form and performances.

Anyone can do it

Whether you’re recovering from an injury, pregnant, a new mum, or an Ironman competitor, swimming is a workout that you control what you get out of every session. Even if you can’t swim, with the right training you can transform this activity to be integral to your every day life. Read more about how swimming has transformed lives here

If our 60 year old Mum can swim 2.7km out at sea, you can too!

It alleviates major stress

While exercise-induced endorphins will do wonders for your stress levels, getting in the water for your workout may have its own special brand of mood-boosting benefits. Being submerged in water dulls the amount of sensory information that bombards your body, helping to bring on feelings of calm, much like soaking in the bathtub!

It turns back the clock

Regular swimmers are biologically 20 years younger than their driver’s licenses say they are, according to research from Indiana University. Scientists say that, even up until your 70th birthday, swimming affects blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular performance, central nervous system health, cognitive functioning, muscle mass, and blood chemistry to be much more similar to that of your younger self. Who needs night cream or botox?

It makes you smarter

Blood flow to the brain increased by up to 14 percent when men submerged themselves in water up to their hearts, according to a Journal of Physiology study. Researchers believe water’s pressure on the chest cavity may have something to do with it, and they are now studying whether water-based workouts improve blood flow to the brain better than do land-based ones. Stay tuned.

swimming benefits
Ocean Swimming in Fiji

It opens you up to awesome experiences

Want to jump off the back of a boat? Swim around the Fiji Islands? Go snorkelling in the Caribbean? Mastering swimming allows you to participate in so much more than you ever would’ve imagined. Swimming is a life skill, it changes lives and it opens the doors to a lot of fun stuff.

Sound good? Read next:

How to start swimming

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